On the 18th November 2019, the Jubilee Centre published Religious Education Teachers and Character: Personal Beliefs and Professional Approaches. The aim of the research presented in this report was to explore Religious Education (RE) teacher's worldviews and their approaches to promoting pupils' character growth in RE.
The research goals of this study were:
1) How do RE teachers’ personal beliefs and worldviews relate to their professional motivations?
2) How do RE teachers negotiate religious diversity?
3) What do RE teachers think about RE and pupils’ character development?
4) What differences in beliefs about pupils’ character development are there between RE teachers holding different worldviews?
What instruments were used?
The first, qualitative phase of the study was inspired by the narrative identity paradigm. This uses semi-structured interviews to explore participants’ self-understandings of the development of the course of their lives. In addition to standard questions used in this paradigm, the interview schedule also included questions about teachers’ perspectives on RE and character development.
The second, quantitative phase, was designed drawing on initial analyses of the interviews and employed measures of religious practice and style, as well as individual items about RE teachers’ perceptions of character education. The data generated from these questions allowed for analyses of the relationships between RE teachers’ worldviews, their perspectives on character education and their professional motivations.
What were the main findings?
1) Personal worldviews informed RE teachers’ approaches in the classroom.
2) RE teachers were found to have fair and tolerant views of other religions and worldviews.
3) There was strong agreement among teachers with a religious faith that RE contributes to character education, and RE teachers should act as role models for their pupils.
4) RE teachers that have a religious faith were more likely to think religions promote good character.
For a condensed summary of the background, findings and implications please click on the image below.
The Religious Education Teachers and Character project explores the contribution of religious education to character education, with a focus on examining the role of the teacher of religious education in secondary schools in England.
The research questions for this project are:
- How do secondary school teachers of religious education perceive the relationship between their personal worldviews and their professional roles as character educators?
- How could the major religious traditions of the world (their cosmologies, mythologies and moral parables) provide wisdom in a multicultural context that would be mutually benefitting and acceptable to the public?
- How could persons of virtue in religions exemplify character traits to be modelled in a student’s life?
These questions will be pursued in collaboration with volunteer teacher participants through in-depth life history interviews, and an innovative online questionnaire. The data generated by these methods will allow for sophisticated analyses of the relationships between teachers’ own character development and their classroom vocation, and for a greater understanding of the rich potential of religious education for character education more generally.
For a summary of the project aims, please click here.
Discussion Papers and Research Papers